Class Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2.30-4pm
Location: Psychology 249
Course Website: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~grussell/Phil405-S13.html
Instructor: Professor Gillian Russell
Office hours: Tuesdays 4-5pm or by appointment
Office Location: 209 Wilson Hall
Email: grussell – at – wustl – dot – edu
Teaching Assistant: John Gabriel
Office hours: 2-2.30pm Tues and Thurs or by appointment
Email: jgabriel22 – at – wustl – dot – edu
This course is an introduction to metaphysics for students who are new to the subject. The only prerequisiste is one 100 or 200-level course in philosophy.
Metaphysics is sometimes described as the study of what there is, but this does little to distinguish it from just about every other discipline and, in practice, metaphysics – like philosophy more generally – is more easily explained through examples of the kinds of problems with which it engages.
What is it to say that something exists? Is there anything which does not exist?
What is it to act freely? Does anyone ever act freely?
Is time real? Does the future exist? Is time travel possible? What is required for survival over time? (e.g. what makes you the same person as the person who first enrolled in this class under your name?)
Our focus in this course will be on the topics of causation and laws of nature, free will and determinism, mental states and personal identity, time and time travel, and material objects and their properties.
We will use a single textbook, Carroll and Markosian’s Introduction to Metaphysics. This is the only book you need to buy. We will also study some more difficult research papers (not written at an introductory level) which will be linked to from the course website or available on electronic reserves.
To access some of these articles from off-campus you will need to log in to the library proxy first.
Reading: Introduction (from the textbook)
Important concepts: arguments, validity, soundness, induction, inference to the best explanation
Reading: “Causation” in Carroll and Markosian (henceforth C&M)
“Causation” – David Lewis
Reading: “The Metaphysics of Causation” – Jonathan Schaffer.
(And you should watch L.A. Paul and Ned Hall on TV.)
Reading: “Freedom and Determinism” in C&M.
“Alternate possibilities and Moral Responsibility” – Harry Frankfurt.
“Freedom and Resentment” – Peter Strawson
“Arguments for Incompatablism” – Kadri Vihvelin
“Laws of Nature” in C&M.
“Personal Identity” in C&M
“The Self and The Future” – Bernard Williams
Chapter 1 of Reasons and Persons “Personal Identity” – Derek Parfit
“Survival and Identity” – David Lewis
“Reid on Memory and Personal Identity” – Rebecca Copenhaver
“Mental States” in C&M
“Functionalism” – Janet Levin
“Time” in C&W
“The Unreality of Time” – J.E.M. McTaggart
“How fast does time pass?” – Ned Markosian
Midterm Exam (in class)
TBA “Temporal Parts” – Katherine Hawley
“Goodbye Growing Block” – Trenton Merricks
“The Paradoxes of Time Travel” – David Lewis
“Future Contingents and Relative Truth” – John MacFarlane
“Material Objects” in C&M
Chapter 3 of Material Beings – Peter van Inwagen
“The Statue and The Clay” – Judy Jarvis Thompson
20% – short paper (400 words max.) due on Wednesday 13th February. I will be giving out a list of paper questions.
40% – midterm examination on Thursday 28th March.
40% – long paper (2000 words max) (due May 2nd – the first day of exam week.) I will be giving out a list of paper questions.
There is no final exam.
For students taking the course pass/fail, the minimum letter grade required for a pass will be a C-.
Drafts – John and I are happy to look at drafts of your papers, but if you are giving one of us a draft to look at we must have it one week before the paper is due. This is to give us time to read your draft carefully and write comments on it, and you time to redraft in response to those comments before you turn the final version of your paper in. Drafts submitted later than this will not be looked at.
All papers should be turned in to the “turn in” filing cabinet in the philosophy department office on the 2nd floor of Wilson Hall by 3.30pm on the day they are due. (The office closes at 4pm, and the people who work there like to be on their way home at 4.05pm, not unlocking doors for students with a late paper.) Please use a single paper clip to hold the pages together. Pages should be numbered, with your name on the final page. Do not put your student number or social security number on your paper. Any well-known, consistent citation method is acceptable. Your paper should finish with a bibliography, listing the texts you read while pursuing research on the paper, including any texts cited.
Students suspected of plagiarism or any other form of academic dishonesty or misconduct will be reported to the academic integrity officer for Arts and Sciences (currently Dean Killen), so that the incident may be handled in a consistent, fair manner, and so that substantiated charges of misconduct may be noted in students’ records.